Friday 18 September 2015

Knowledge Transfer Groups in Co. Galway

Tirglas will be setting up a number of Knowledge transfer groups in Co. Galway. This scheme is a follow on from the very successful BTAP scheme. The groups provide a forum for farmers to learn from each other in a structure where key topics can be introduced by a facilitator. The first set of groups will be directed at farmers involved in Beef production, it is anticipated that at least two groups will be set up in Connemara, one in the Slieve Aughties and one in the Claregalway area. There is no fee payable by the farmer for participating in these groups. A payment of €750 is made annually to the farmer to cover any costs associated with participation.
To be eligible for the scheme a farmer has to be a member of either the herd plus or Bord Bia quality assurance scheme. If you want to participate in one of these groups please contact us here at Tirglas.

Sunday 6 September 2015

GLAS Tranche 2

GLAS is set to reopen at the end of September. The second tranche will be heavily weighted towards Tier 1, i.e. Commonage, SAC/SPA, Rare breeds and organic farmers. It is expected that a total of 10,000 places will be available with the application period set to close in mid November.
Very important decisions must be made by commonage and SAC/ SPA farmers in the coming weeks. Foremost of these is to review the issue of staying in AEOS for another year or applying for GLAS in this round. While this is a judgement call that can only be made by the individual farmer, you should bare the following in mind.

1) GLAS will have 50,000 participants when the scheme is full.
2) Approx. 26,000 of these places have already been filled.
3) Another 10,000 will be filled by the end of the year.

There are approx. 15,000 farmers with commonage and around 20,000 with SAC/SPA land (considerable overlap between the two groups). Considering that about 9,000 joined up in the first tranche, there would appear to be room to accommodate all remaining tier 1 farmers within the remaining tranches of the GLAS scheme. That said delaying entry until the third tranche is effectively putting all your eggs into one basket, if anything goes wrong at that stage there is very little room for recovery. Such a strategy is also based on the assumption that there will be no follow up scheme to GLAS in the next round of the CAP. This is a very pessimistic outlook to hold. The EU has for decades now been very supportive of agri-environment measures and a complete u turn is very unlikely. And without being too fatalistic, none of us can be sure if we will be around to worry about what might happen in 2020.

The decision is ultimately a personal one but all tier 1 farmers should contact their advisor as soon as possible. Planners will be under incredible pressure this Autumn. GLAS applications, Commonage Management Planning and the soil sampling for first tranche applicants will make the advisors time very precious indeed. The long and the short of it is that if you leave contacting an advisor until November you will probably not get an application in.

I know some people will want to leave the decision about joining GLAS until they see what the commonage management plan looks like. While this may seem prudent, it may not be in the farmers best interests. The reason for this is two fold. First, there is no chance of the Commonage Management Plans being ready in time. Secondly and of even greater significance, the Commonage advisor will build the plan after consulting with the farmers who have signed up, the plan revolves around these farmers and reflects their concerns and aspirations. If you have not signed up you will not be part of this process, your voice will not be heard and you will have to take what you get when you do eventually join. No one can pretend that this is in their interest. Get in touch with your commonage advisor, sign up to the process and get involved. The alternative is to let others make the decisions for you. Remember there will not be a whole lot of sympathy out there for those who complain that the CMP does not suit them when they stayed silent when the plan was being prepared.